Illegal letting hurts tourism

The accommodation industry is calling for a clamp-down on illegal letting of premises for tourism accommodation, following the release of the outcomes of a NSW parliamentary inquiry into tourism.

The inquiry’s final report recommends that the NSW government should publish the results of a trial of a Holiday Rental Code of Conduct that has been taking place for almost two years, but the Accommodation Association of Australia is keen to see further action. “Evidence given to the NSW parliamentary inquiry into tourism, which is reflected in the inquiry report, clearly demonstrates that the existing arrangements should be overhauled,” said the chief executive officer of the Accommodation Association of Australia, Richard Munro. “For example, a family who lives on the NSW Central Coast told the inquiry that they have been significantly affected by the noise and behaviour of temporary occupiers of a house next door to them, so much so that they took the neighbours to court and the court found that the property next door was not being used for the purposes of a ‘dwelling house’ because of the transient nature of the guests. “In addition, such arrangements place the safety of visitors at risk because, among other things, the building fire safety standards for tourism accommodation businesses are much higher. While the association understands the important role that holiday rentals play in the tourism industry, the current regulatory regime is not working and should be changed.

“Consideration should be given by the NSW government – and potentially other state/territory governments – to stepping in to develop a common framework so that local government will be able to adequately regulate this form of accommodation.” With regard to other recommendations arising from the inquiry, Mr Munro said the industry does not support any proposal to impose additional taxes on accommodation operators. “AAA is opposed to special rate variations, which are otherwise known as a bed tax or tourism levy,” Mr Munro said. “Operators of accommodation businesses already voluntarily contribute millions of dollars to cooperative marketing initiatives and another tax would result in job losses in our industry.”

Just last week an inspection of a South Bundaberg house has found the owners in clear breach of the by-laws operating an illegal backpackers’ hostel. A Bundaberg Regional Council spokesman confirmed council officers inspected the property along with members of the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service and real estate representatives. “Council officers identified a clear breach of planning compliance issues,” he said.
If convicted, property owners who allow more than five unrelated people to reside at the same property without appropriate development approval face fines of up to $183,150.


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